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Accredited School Resources

2023-2024 VIRGINIA LAW & PRIVATE SCHOOLS GUIDE*

You may view the 2023-2024 Virginia Law & Private Schools Guide below

Do you want a printed copy? See below.

Please note: Your benefit as a VCPE state-recognized accredited private school provides you access to the most recent law guide. For the purpose of interacting with the links in the document, primary access for accredited private schools is in the above linked electronic format.

*Virginia Law & Private Schools Guide is protected by copyright law. Any disclosure, copying or distribution of this publication without the prior written permission of the Virginia Council for Private Education is PROHIBITED. Any right not expressly granted herein are reserved.

Should you wish to have a physical copy of the guide, we have printed them in booklet form. You may purchase them for $50 and VCPE will ship them to you. Please email VCPE at office@vcpe.org to request your printed copies and an invoice will be emailed to you. Payments must be made online.

Virginia Law and Private Schools is published annually by the Virginia Council for Private Education (VCPE) to demonstrate its commitment to quality education in private schools in the Commonwealth of Virginia and to identify legal issues that arise in the operation of private schools.

With each annual publication of Virginia Law and Private Schools, VCPE strives to incorporate regulatory, statutory and other legal changes that have taken place throughout the prior year. As such, all school Heads, business officers and key administrators are encouraged to review the publication annually.

The 2023-2024 edition of Virginia Law and Private Schools contains updates in framework and in substance. It is intended to be more directional and user-friendly. VCPE welcomes feedback on these updates and this document as a whole. Feedback may be sent by e-mail to: office@vcpe.org.

Notice Regarding Legal Advice: Not all private schools are organized the same way, and not all private schools operate in the same manner. Legal issues affecting private schools can be complicated, nuanced and fact-specific. Obligations and responsibilities of a school in a particular legal situation can depend on a number of factors. Thus, to ensure legal compliance with federal, state and local laws and regulations, both in general and on a case-by-case basis, VCPE strongly recommends that each school consult with legal counsel experienced in issues affecting private schools in Virginia.

Prepared by:

 

1802 Bayberry Court | Suite 302 | Richmond, Virginia 23226 | P 804 593 4003 | www.burtchlaw.com

Virginia Law and Private Schools is a publication of VCPE prepared with the assistance of Burtch Law PLLC, a Richmond-based law firm which represents private schools throughout Virginia, as both general counsel and on an as-needed basis.

Step-By-Step Guide to Background Checks & Child Abuse and Neglect Registry Searches for Virginia Private Schools

Updated August 16, 2022

Accredited Virginia private schools are subject to state laws regarding criminal background checks for ALL employees (full-time, part-time, permanent or temporary which have direct contact with students).   While many Virginia private schools use a third-party vendor for preliminary background name checks, state law requires private schools to use the process as set forth in §22.1-296.3 and outlined in this memo PRIOR to allowing any full or part-time staff to be alone with students.

Please read this entire memo carefully and ensure that your human resources policies and procedures reflect the legal requirements that apply to your specific school programs.

If your school operates a program serving children younger than kindergarten (pre-kindergarten, preschool, early childhood education, child care, etc.), please ensure that any employee AND volunteers who may have interaction with that pre-kindergarten population be screened pursuant to the “Process for EARLY CHILDHOOD SETTINGS” below. Employees who will be strictly working with a K-12 population should be screened pursuant to the “Process for K-12 SCHOOL SETTINGS”.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Please be sure to keep copies of all employee fingerprint background checks and Child Abuse & Neglect Registry Searches in employee files for verification purposes.

As always, please contact VCPE (office@vcpe.org) if you have further questions about this process.

1. BACKGROUND CHECK PROCESS FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD SETTINGS
(This applies to employees of Certified Preschools, Religiously Exempt Child Day Centers, and Licensed Child Day Centers Programs Pursuant to Article 5 of Title 22.1 Education Code,§22.1-289.035 and §19.2-392.02)

  •  Fingerprint background checks for ALL employees AND volunteers working with children in early childhood (preschool or childcare) settings are now required to be completed through Fieldprint. The background check must be completed BEFORE that individual begins their employment or volunteer service.
  • What do I do if my school needs to set up an account with Fieldprint ?
  • An account may be set up with Fieldprint by emailing customerservice@myfieldprint.com or calling (888) 472-8918.
  • VCPE recommends any administrators, nurses or others on staff who may be called to work in the early childhood setting at any time, for any reason should have their fingerprint background check conducted through the DSS Fieldprint process.
  • DSS requires fingerprint-based background re-checks every 5 years. All individuals who were previously screened with name-based (non-fingerprint) background checks were required to submit to a fingerprint check no later than September 1, 2018.
  • After September 30, 2021, fees will be as DSS background checks:
  • Employees and Applicants $59.00
    Volunteers $39.00
  • Additional Employee Background Documentation Required for Early Childhood Employees:
    (UPDATED 12/19/2018)

    • ALL Applicants, employees and volunteers of early childhood programs must sign a “Sworn Statement or Affirmation for Child Day Programs” (linked HERE).
    • This documentation IS part of the DSS audit process.  Schools MUST keep these forms on file in the case of audit or compliance request.

Resources for VDOE Early Childhood/Child Day Programs Background Checks:
1.     Overview Powerpoint on how to proceed with employee fingerprinting through Fieldprint: http://www.dss.virginia.gov/files/division/licensing/background_index_childrens_facilities/fingerprint_based_background_checks/schedule_a_fingerprint_appointment_at_Fieldprint_power_point.pdf

2.     Handout for employees on how to schedule fingerprinting appointments with Fieldprint: https://www.doe.virginia.gov/cc/files/how_to_schedule_a_fieldprint_appointment.pdf

3.     VDOE (formerly VDSS) Background Investigations homepage, including all background related resources, forms, and memos: https://www.doe.virginia.gov/cc/providers/index.html?pageID=17

See below for Section “3. CHILD ABUSE REGISTRY SCREENING FOR ALL SCHOOL EMPLOYEES” for additional screening requirements for ALL employees.

                

2. BACKGROUND CHECK PROCESS FOR K-12 SCHOOL SETTINGS
(Background Checks for Accredited Private Schools Pursuant to §22.1-296.3)

Fingerprint background checks for employees working in a K-12 school setting are conducted in one of two ways via the Virginia State Police:

OPTION 1: Hard copy fingerprint card*
This the same process schools have been using in past years to conduct fingerprint background checks.  Nothing will be different about your fingerprint background check process if you continue to use the physical card method. We expect the State Police to eventually phase out this option.

OPTION 2: Fieldprint electronic fingerprint capture
This is an electronic fingerprint background check vendor on state contract to process fingerprint background checks required by the Code of Virginia.  This electronic fingerprint background check process will provide you the results of background checks in 24-72 hours!
*Turnaround times will remain the same as they are now if you continue using hard copy fingerprint cards.

  • How does this change my fingerprint background check process?  It is your school’s choice as to whether the physical fingerprint cards or the new Fieldprint electronic fingerprint background check process is used to fingerprint criminal background check employees.  Schools may use a combination of both.  Before you determine your school’s use of Fieldprint or not, you should determine the location of the closest Fieldprint LiveScan fingerprint collection office to your school (see https://fieldprintvirginia.com/).
  • For some schools, Fieldprint locations may not be conveniently located and your school may wish to continue to use physical fingerprint cards but, in the case where you need a background check done quickly, it is recommended that your school have an account set up for those situations.
  • There is NO requirement in Virginia law to recheck the backgrounds of employees in the K-12 setting, like there is in the early childhood setting.

What do I do if my school needs to set up an account with Fieldprint ?
An account may be set up with Fieldprint by emailing customerservice@myfieldprint.com or calling (888) 472-8918.

3. CHILD ABUSE REGISTRY SCREENING FOR ALL SCHOOL EMPLOYEES

 

VDOE (formerly VDSS) has asked VCPE to remind administrators and applicants of the following:

The form is fillable on your computer before it is printed. Typing these forms on your computer reduces errors and the frequency of DSS sending forms back for correction.

  • If completing forms by hand, print a new form for EVERY applicant (photocopying blank forms causes degradation of print quality).
  • Ensure that email addresses are accurate and clearly written. If emails bounce, DSS must send confirmation via postal mail, potentially adding a week or more to receipt of confirmation.
    • Do not write in form margins or over barcode.
    • Do not use white out or strike through errors (print out a new form and start over if you make a mistake).
    • Ensure that checks are completely filled in, signed and recently dated, and that there is no upcoming check expiration.

 

The Virginia Department of Social Services is mandated to return Child Abuse & Neglect Registry Search screenings in 10 business days or less, but this process occasionally takes longer. Please inform VCPE if your child abuse registry screenings take more than 15 business days by emailing office@vcpe.org